When I read about a 17-year-old heroine, all I can think is, She is much too young for that, despite the historical appropriateness of her age. This is the 90’s after all, and many of us wouldn’t allow a 17-year-old to babysit for us, much less think about getting married and start producing wee bairns on her own. When the hero is 29, well, I just can’t put my 20th Century sensibilities aside. Ignoring the age discrepancies, what I am left with is a book about several young adults in the gentry of early America, who, due to their childish behavior, I wanted to send to their rooms (90’s don’t allow for a good backside paddling, and this is the one time I find myself disagreeing with that ideal).
Velvet Storm is a young heiress with four older brothers. Four extremely overprotective older brothers. Having been rooster-pecked for her entire life, Velvet has decided that she will never get married, but will instead follow a noteworthy dream of going to Rome to study under a Master Sculptor. Before she can set her plan into motion, she learns that her parents plan to marry her off at the first opportunity, and she decides she must get herself compromised. Her chosen compromiser is her brother Dom’s friend, Christian Stanfield, a notable womanizer.
After having been trapped into an unhappy marriage, Christian has just sent off his annulment request to the King. Now he’s on the lookout for a mistress (although his needs are great, he wants to use the local brothel only as a last resort). His plans go awry when he is tempted into seducing a disguised Velvet at a masquerade party. All four of her brothers manage to come out of the woodwork, catching them in a clutch, and Velvet then declares that they are engaged.
To get even with Christian for “compromising” Velvet, the brothers play a nasty prank on him, one that could have killed him. The rest of the book is spent on Christian and Velvet’s plans for retaliation. One scheme (all are successful) includes a brother thinking he has gotten an STD at the local brothel. Neat, huh? While plotting and planning and putting everything in action, Velvet and Christian find that they need to go through with the wedding. Velvet’s sculpting sponsor, a man she knows nothing about who has promised to show her work to an Italian sculptor, has yet to show up to take her to Rome. So they decide to fake the wedding. Needless to say, eventually everyone settles down and a real marriage takes place.
I was very unhappy with this book. Christian is a very unappealing and inactive hero. Why would anyone find a hero who is constantly thinking about mistresses and brothels appealing? He calls himself honorable, but he never opens his mouth to defend Velvet when caught in a compromising position, and then, he agrees to a fake wedding. Velvet does all the planning and most of the preparing – he is pretty much along for the ride. When he discovers he loves her, I thought, finally . . . he is about to take action and convince Velvet they should be married – but no such luck. Christian’s getting an annulment and is thinking about marriage again, so why not Velvet?
And, there was purple prose:
“A burst of desire shot from her nipple and slammed into her woman’s place—“
“The feast is yours for the taking, my handsome pirate.”
“Then, I shall take my fill, milady. But beware, I have a ferocious appetite.”
There are a few shining moments. Velvet, despite being 17, is a wonderfully creative character when she is sculpting. Had she spent more time being a sculptor, I would have liked her much more. There is a moment at the end when Christian tells her he will take her to Italy, well, I thought there he is, the real hero of the book. Where was he all this time? One more thing. Christian’s sister Fiona could have stolen the show had she been involved more. She is easily the best character in the book – independent, funny, mature, all the things the rest are not, although she herself pulled a prank near the end – the sole purpose of it being her brother’s happiness, instead of some scheme for revenge.
I wish I could have liked this book more. Sue Rich would write some passages that would suck me in, and then I’d bounce back out again and growl in irritation. When Christian and Velvet are together the book shines. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen enough. Despite the satisfying ending, I was left with an itchy spanking hand. Was Ms. Rich going for humor? Maybe. To me, adults behaving like children is just not funny. Hopefully for the author, I am in the minority.
|Review Date:||July 23, 1998|